05/02/2007

Sitting On The Job - And The Risks Of Deep Vein Thrombosis

What do taxi drivers, call centre professionals and office workers have in
common? If they spend long hours in a seated position - not moving - they may
share an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis. Deep Veinous Thrombosis (DVT)
is a condition whereby a clot forms in a large vein after prolonged sitting.
This condition, commonly associated with long haul air travellers, can cause
discomfort or pain, or worse, a fatal heart attack or stroke.

A study carried out in 2005 by the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand
found that a third of patients admitted to a hospital with DVT had jobs that
involved sitting still at desks for long periods. Some office workers who
developed clots sat at their computers for 14 hours a day, and some of them
were going three to four hours at a time without getting up. The study also
said that a family history of DVT was also a significant factor in getting the
disease.

Sedentary workers in various occupations are at increased risk, because sitting
impedes the blood flow. Having "fidgety legs" and feeling the urge to get up
and move is not necessarily a sign of distraction. It's often our bodies
telling us to recirculate the blood in our legs.

DVT affects mainly the veins in the lower leg and thigh. When a clot forms in
the larger veins of the area, it can interfere with circulation. The danger
occurs if the clot breaks off, travels through the bloodstream, and lodges into
the brain, lungs, heart, or other area, causing severe damage to that organ or
possible death from a heart attack or stroke.

While prolonged sitting is never a good idea, there are other risk factors that
may increase the risk of DVT. People with an inherited or acquired blood
clotting disorder, slowed blood flow in a deep vein (from injury, surgery or
immobilization) and people with cancer and undergoing treatment are at higher
risk. Pregnant women, or women who have had a baby in the last 6 months, may
also be at risk. Other risk factors include being overweight, taking birth
control pills or hormone therapy, having a veinous catheter, and being over 60.
DVT can affect people at any age, however, anyone who is seated, immobile for
long periods on a plane, on a long car trip, in a chair, or in bed.

The symptoms are similar to those for other conditions, making DVT difficult to
diagnose without specific tests. Symptoms may include pain, tenderness or
swelling in one leg, increased warmth of one leg, or redness in one leg. Half
of all DVT episodes produce minimal symptoms or none at all.

If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor. If, however, you're
experiencing chest pain, difficulty breathing, fainting, loss of consciousness
or other severe symptoms, go to the emergency room or call for emergency
medical services.

People who have already experienced DVT can prevent further episodes by taking
the medication prescribed by their doctor and having regular follow-up
appointments. The best way to prevent DVT in the first place is to be active
and mobile, and to move around as soon as possible after prolonged sitting or
lying down. If you are prone to blood clots or have had surgery, your doctor
can prescribe medication to prevent or treat blood clots.

The bottom line to reducing the risk: if you work in a job that has you
deskbound or seated for hours at a time, make sure to get up and move around
every hour to get that blood circulating!

More info


AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety